Thursday, June 2, 2022

Salute to the euduring Queen Elizabeth II, from a loyal American fan

 

Queen Elizabeth II, watches a "fly-past" of the Royal Air Force, with Prince Charles, heir to the throne,
and her great-grandchildren, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte, and their mother, Catherine
Middleton, who became the  Duchess of  Cambridge when she married Prince William.

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN AS AN AMERICAN WRITER RECALLS LONDON VISITS,  ROYAL ENCOUNTERS


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER & C MEYERS
and courtesy The Times of London and CNN

Thousands are gathering in the Mall outside Buckingham
Palace in a four-day holiday celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's
remarkable, record-setting 70 years on the throne. Here the
Royal Air Force does a "fly-past" as it is known in the UK.

MY AFFECTION for Queen Elizabeth dates to her coronation and my introduction to television.

As a toddler in 1953, I sat fascinated on my mum's knee as we watched history and majesty unfold. What transpired on our new black and white TV heralded the beginning of my lifelong fascination with London and the Royals. It also represented the introduction to the world of television as mainstream media.

LITTLE DID I know how remarkable QEII's reign would be -- or that I would be invited to cover her Silver Jubilee in 1977. Or that as a travel writer, I would visit London dozens of times and write about it for magazines and newspapers.
In July of 1977, at London's posh Intercontinental Hotel on Hyde Park, as champagne flowed, I learned with 49 other American journalists the protocol for meeting royals. While we were told there were no obligatory rules for Americans meeting royals, we females were urged by a protocol advisor to give a small, polite curtsy.
Men were to give a neck bow, from the head only. This was in preparation to our meeting Princess Anne and the "Queen Mum," at a gala black tie party the next evening.
THAT MEMORABLE weekend was 45 years ago, celebrating QEII's 25 years on the throne. Although we didn't meet the Queen, we saw her from the crowd as she waved from the famous Buckingham Palace balcony.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wave at the
crowds at her coronation in 1953. This is her
first celebration without her  husband of 73 years.

We did meet Princess Anne at the world premiere of the latest James Bond film, "The Spy Who Loved Me." We also met the Queen Mum at a pub in Leicester Square near the Odeon Theater where many activities took place and she pulled her own pint and finished it with a gin chaser.
I'VE WATCHED "The Crown," have seen many plays on the royal family, read biographies and visited their palaces and castles. But I'll never forget that long ago black-and-white viewing of the coronation. The young queen was beautiful; the event was magical.   I memorized the names of the eight grey gelding horses which pulled her and Prince Philip in the gold state coach: Cunningham, Tovey, Noah, Tedder, Eisenhower, Snow White, Tipperary and McCreery.
Westminster Abbey is one of the world's most
 famous examples of gothic architecture.


 James Bond, Princess Anne, Cookie

The Admiralty on London's Trafalgar Square is a favorite of locals
and visitors, who enjoy its old-timey feeling in a decor suggesting
a ship. The pub is one of hundreds celebrating the Queen's Jubilee.

I adored those horses, the pomp and circumstance, the jewels, the hats. I supposedly told my mother, "I'm going to to 'West Minister" to pray for the Queen." (That often quoted family malaprop came from an awestruck four-year old's lips.) A dozen years later as a teen-age visitor to London, my first London stop was Buckingham Palace, then Westminster Abbey, where QE2 became the thirty-ninth sovereign to be crowned. That magnificent gothic building is one of the world's most famous architectural masterpieces with its magnificent  stained glass, sweeping arches, vaulted ceilings and gargoyles. I never tire of a visit.

I IMAGINE 1245 when King Henry III pulled down the eastern part of the 11th Century Abbey and made it his own, complete with flying buttresses. For even on our little 16-inch telly -- the largest money could buy at the time -- I was hooked on history, royalty and marvelous old buildings.

IN DOZENS of visits to the UK, I never miss a chance to hoist a pint in a pub, or take a side trip to Windsor, Sandringham or Balmoral or any of the string of palatial residences owned by the royals. 

Hats off to the Royals

Princess Diana, Prince Charles on wedding day.
The Queen has seen Diana die and Charles
remarry, to his longtime mistress, Camilla.


IF MY MOTHER had lived, she'd be a year younger than the Queen. Prince Charles is just a couple years older than I, so one could say I've grown up with the royal family. I've followed their triumphs and tragedies. I set my alarm to watch the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana, then again, the wedding of Prince William and Katherine Middleton. Didn't miss a minute of Diana's touching funeral, and am tuning in to ABC to watch highlights of the four-day 70th Jubilee Celebration. A highlight: the Queen's pre-recorded tea party with Paddington Bear. Delightful fun.

Queen Elizabeth II is surrounded by, left, her son
Charles, the Prince of Wales, next in line to the
throne, Prince George and his father Prince
William, whose mother was Princess Diana.

Although she was only 25 when she was proclaimed Queen after her father died in 1952, she would have just turned 27 when she was officially crowned in June, 1953, after the customary mourning period.
The coronation pre-empted "I Love Lucy" and "Dragnet." More than 20 million tuned in.
It was the first time in history that a TV audience outnumbered radio's.   I've grown up with TV -- and the Royal Family.
My favorite corner of Westminster, the
  Lady Chapel, last phase to be finished.
 












 

I admire the Queen for her fortitude and grace. She's seen the family through scandal and tragedy, divorce and controversy. She grieved the loss of her husband of 73 years and has lately experienced issues with balance and walking. Of course. She's nearly a century old, bless her. She still enjoys a daily cocktail, pets her beloved corgis and chats up the next generation, her great-grandchildren. Yes, she's the world's richest woman and lives what many consider an extravagant, pampered life, but it must also be lonely at times. Her only sister and best friend, Princess Margaret, has been gone for years. Yet she arises each day, faces the world, goes to work, does her duty. For me, she is an endearing, enduring figure, a "grand dame" in the grandest sense.

MORE INFORMATION: To watch the festivities, tune in to ABC, which per an agreement with BBC, is broadcasting live from London and Buckingham Palace through the weekend.

Come aboard the Love Tours "hippie bus" for a fun time
in San Francisco.  Here Christene "Cookie" Meyers and
Bruce Keller pau
se in the wind by Golden Gate Bridge.
UP NEXT:
We're aging hippies, and sometimes we listen to the music from "The Summer of Love." So come with us on the "Hippie Bus," for a Love Tour of San Francisco. We take a magical trip aboard the colorful VW bus to Haight Ashbury, accompanied by the music of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Love Tours tells the tale of a generation which shaped music, politics and art. It's counter-culture time and we promise a lively experience. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, nature, the arts, music, family and more: www.whereiscookie.com Please share the link.

4 comments:

  1. Fun story. Love Queen Elizabeth II.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Delightful! Thanks for the entertaining memories.

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  3. Kiwi Queen BoostersJune 3, 2022 at 12:03 PM

    Grand dame indeed. We love her here in New Zealand.

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  4. Love your "Roya evcounters"!

    ReplyDelete